What’s on : Activities

Tour the Minster Precinct

2 Nov 2023
Start time
2:30 PM
York Minster
Tour the Minster Precinct

Event Information

Tour the Minster Precinct and learn about the new Neighbourhood Plan

2pm Thursday 2nd November 2023

Cost: £8 per person

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster has agreed to conduct a second tour around the Minster Precinct on 2 November 2023 at 2.30pm. This will showcase the changes envisioned in the 15 year Neighbourhood Plan for the Minster and its environment, together with progress already made, from the Centre of Excellence at the east end to the new civic space known as Queen Elizabeth Square at the west end. A key objective of the plan is sustainability and Alex will demonstrate how this will be achieved by ground source heat pumps, solar panels and solar tiles.  The tour will start at the West End of the Minster where we should gather by 2.25pm.

To book, please return the booking form below to the Lodge with your cheque, made out to Yorkshire Philosophical Society (in full) or send the form by email to info@ypsyork.org and pay by Paypal at https://www.ypsyork.org/donate-to-yps/

Download the booking form in Word here: Minster Precinct 2nd November 2023

YPS terms and conditions apply. See the website https://www.ypsyork.org/groups/social-group/yps-activities-booking-terms-conditions-2/  or ask at the Lodge

Member’s Report

Following the earlier successful visit to the Minster Precinct in April, Alex McCallion again gave YPS members a detailed description of York Minster’s Neighbourhood Plan. Starting at the West End of the Minster, Alex explained how the statue of the late Queen Elizabeth had become a symbol for the planned Centre of Excellence at the east end and the driving force for what is to become a new civic space known as Queen Elizabeth Square. The intention is to provide a pedestrian area in front of the Minster, partitioned off by Victorian style bollards with access only provision for vehicles, offering a community space with tables and chairs in a more European style plaza.

This was only the beginning of the new chapter in the life of the Minster Precinct, embodied in the first Minster development plan since 1958. Although the concept is settled, the question of funding is of course a major consideration; the plan alone had cost £250,000 to produce and the total cost is likely to be in the region of £40,000,000. One of the issues is the status of the Minster as all the buildings are listed and the most important are Grade One. Large though the Minster may be, it is nevertheless a very fragile building.

A key objective is sustainability, with the Minster aiming for net zero by 2030. Walking through Dean Park, Alex explained his hope for the installation of ground source heat pumps to service the Minster. We were able to see how far the Centre of Excellence located by the Deanery stables had already advanced since the earlier visit. This will be a training centre and will provide for six apprentice masons, four from York and two from partner organisations, in addition to the existing staff. A glass wall to the east of the building will enable walkers along the wall a sight of the masons at work. Again, sustainability featured with solar and green roofs over both the centre and the hospitality area, together with an air source heat pump powered by the solar energy provided.

St William’s College will become the Chapter’s main office, but will also offer space for conferences and banqueting. Alex pointed out that until Frank Green (of the Treasurer’s House) employed Temple Moore to restore the building it was in ruins and what we see today is more of a ‘disneyfication’ than a true mediaeval building, but this should not detract from its value to the plan. The nearby College Green has already been opened with new planting and benches, the central bench echoing the apex of the Great East Window.

We were unable to see inside the old stoneyard where work is underway to update both the yard and its equipment. Three brand new saws are to be installed in what is to be known as the technology hub with the Master Mason’s setting up room and computers. All stone on arrival will be given a QR code and tracked throughout its progress. The new roof on the hub will be covered with solar panels on each arch.

To the south-east of the Minster, Number One Minster Yard will become the new Visitor Experience Centre and the windows replaced with double-glazed wooden sash windows. Across the way, the former Minster School has now been turned into a refectory and outdoor café with plastic solar tiles on the roof resembling Welsh slate. Excess electricity will be stored in batteries for future use. As Alex reminded us none of this would have been possible without a joint venture partnership.

The neighbourhood plan is available on line for those wishing to read a more detailed description of this ambitious and exciting project.

Dorothy Nott